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Samuel M. Findley (Tex)
Engineer/Tail Gunner
323rd BG, 453rd BS


HOME COMING

I arrived in Mt. Vernon that morning and confirmed with my parents what I felt that I already knew. My brother, Louis Ray, was killed at age 19 while fighting for his country in Italy. One of my cousins was at my parent’s house with her baby. She had lost her airman husband just a few months prior on a B-17 raid on Kiel, Germany and her brother was, at that time, in a German prisoner of war camp after being shot down in a B-17 bomber over Germany. Everyone was nice to me during my leave. I visited with relatives in and around Mt. Vernon and then went to Boling, TX where I was raised and visited with more relatives and friends. The time passed away so quickly that it was nearing the time that I would have to report to Santa Monica, CA where I would be re-assigned. My parents drove me to Big Springs to visit with my aunt and uncle whose son was a German prisoner and I left by train for Los Angeles. I tried to buy a ticket for a Pullman coach berth for the trip but there was none available. In fact I wasn’t even able to get a seat until we were somewhere in New Mexico, but had to stand up.

SANTA MONICA

The Army had an entire hotel in Santa Monica and all sorts of activities that we could attend if we wished. We could visit the Hollywood Stage Door Canteen and dance with the movie stars, tour the movie picture studios, go on beach parties, go horseback riding, and many other events. Mostly I went around on my own. I was there, as I remember, for about 10 days. I saw some of the movie stars and went to some nightclubs. One, in particular, was the Florentine Gardens. I went with a girl that I met and Sgt. Mickey Rooney, the movie star, and party occupied the table next to ours. The entertainment feature was Sophie Tucker who sang "Pistol Packing Mama".

We were given physical examinations and I was certified as "qualified for overseas duty", but my next duty station was the Central Gunnery Instructor School at Laredo Army Air Base in Laredo TX.

GUNNERY INSTRUCTOR SCHOOL

The course at Laredo was for six weeks and this school was very advanced. While here I learned how to instruct students in gunnery and on the General Electric Remote Controlled Gun Turret which was installed in some of the newer bomber aircraft coming off of the production lines. I was given a choice of several stations for my next duty assignment and I selected Lake Charles Army Air Base in Lake Charles,.LA.

LAKE CHARLES

I reported to the Army Air Base and was assigned to a Training Squadron. As I was carrying my gear into the barracks an officer came out of the Squadron Office. It was my pilot Capt. James Hunt and he was to be my squadron commander. A few weeks later my first pilot, Col. Roscoe Haller, arrived for duty as well as Col. Roy Pratt who was my squadron commander while I was in England. Another fellow airman and friend from England, Sgt. Eugene Duffy also came for duty at Lake Charles, so we had a reunion of sorts there.

My parents moved to Orange, TX and my father became employed in a shipyard there. They moved there so they could be close to me. They gave me my first car, a 1940 Ford sedan.

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